This is it: the Tacoma Rainiers final game of the 2018 season.
It’s been a year of ups and downs, but ultimately this team is going to finish either seven or nine games under the .500 mark.
In Triple-A we are so reliant on the moves of the big league affiliate, what their needs are, and how it affects our roster. If the Mariners backup outfielder goes down with a hamstring injury, they call up our clean-up hitter. That’s how it works, and we know that going into the season.
I thought the Rainiers were in good shape to contend after the all-star break. Tacoma was 4.5 games behind Fresno going into the break, hosting the Grizzlies in a four-game series immediately after. Tacoma won the first two games of that series to pull within 2.5 games of first… and then both Christian Bergman and Casey Lawrence were called up ravaging our rotation during a key series, Dan Vogelbach was recalled a few days later, Tacoma lost 11 of the next 12 games, and here we are on Labor Day checking the status of our evening flights home.
If you listen to the pregame show today, manager Pat Listach speaks quite openly about how important Vogelbach was to the lineup, and how much the team struggled when he wasn’t here.
(Looking ahead to the offseason, it is extremely unlikely that Vogelbach will be with Tacoma next year, and the M’s need to sign a Triple-A masher to hit in the middle of the Rainiers lineup in 2019).
Perhaps the biggest story around the team both externally and internally involved the bullpen. Tacoma’s strength throughout the summer was the lights-out relievers in the bullpen (Shawn Armstrong, Ryan Cook, Tyler Higgins, Ryan Garton, Mike Morin, Dario Alvarez, etc), and we sat and watched the Mariners make a bunch of deadline trades… for relief pitchers? Don’t we have plenty of really good ones right here, ready to go up?
The lack of long-term reliever call-ups allowed the Rainiers to shut down PCL games early with the great bullpen, and put Tacoma in a winning position at the all-star break. Things just went south from there when the roster got depleted.
It all ends today with the day game in El Paso. Thanks to those of you who followed along all season and listened to the broadcasts – you are appreciated!
WHAT’S NEXT ON THE BLOG:
This blog does live on during the offseason, but it is not updated as frequently.
For the next two weeks this will be your one-stop shop for quick information about the PCL playoffs. If you want to know who won the games with a sentence or two on each game, and links to more info, I’ve got you covered.
After the Triple-A playoffs end in two weeks, we’ll take a break for a bit until the offseason roster moves start to kick in. We’ll cover the Mariners offseason acquisitions, with the occasional blog post in which I’ll rant about the schedule or the extra innings rule or whatever name the Las Vegas franchise chooses for next year.
Fun times are ahead! Make sure you check in once in a while during the winter.
The next new post is coming Wednesday, before the PCL playoffs begin.
YESTERDAY: After a ton of drama in the first two games of this series, we didn’t really have any in game three. El Paso had ten hits and a 6-0 lead after two innings and went on to beat Tacoma, 9-4. The two kids from rookie ball Cal Hernandez and Sebastian Ochoa each had two hits.
ROSTER MOVES: I was thinking last night that it would be amazing and appropriate if Jerry Dipoto became the first GM in my 20 years to make a morning roster move prior to the final Triple-A game of the season. Let’s see what you’ve got, Dipoto. Show me something.
TODAY: Tacoma (65-73) at El Paso (82-56), 12:05 Pacific.
OPPONENT AFFILIATION: San Diego Padres.
SEASONS SERIES: El Paso leads, 9-6.
PITCHERS: RHP Casey Lawrence (7-5, 3.03) at RHP Collin Rea (3-2, 5.05).
HOT HITTERS: Seth Mejias-Brean has reached base safely in 15 of his last 16 games… Cameron Rupp is 8-for-18 with two homers over his last four games, and has reached base in 15 of his last 16 games… Cameron Perkins has five extra-base hits during a four-game hitting streak.
OPPONENT NEWS: El Paso faces Fresno in the Pacific Conference playoffs starting on Wednesday – they are home for the first two games of the best-of-five series… Shane Peterson has an 11-game hitting streak, with 20 hits and 11 RBI during the stretch… Carlos Asuaje is back from the big leagues; he’s been going up-and-down this year… Asuaje and Francisco Mejia have five-game hitting streaks.
FAMILIAR FACES: Former Rainiers pitchers Jonathan Aro, Carter Capps, and Dillon Overton all play for El Paso.
BROADCAST: The pregame show starts at 11:50 on South Sound Talk 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.
PCL SCOREBOARD: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.
- MiLB.com has a story on last night’s Rainiers game because top prospect Francisco Mejia went off for El Paso.
- The Mariners lost a crucial game on Sunday in Oakland, and they are now looking at long odds to reach the playoffs. Seattle trails the A’s by 5.5 games with 25 to play, and only three head-to-head games remaining.
- Here’s some offseason talk for you: the upcoming affiliation decision made by Round Rock could start a series of changes in the PCL. This is one of the instances in which the Triple-A team gets to decide which MLB team they want to partner with.
Around the PCL (home team in CAPS):
Oh boy. Oklahoma City swept the doubleheader at Colorado Springs last night, and we have a real situation now. They are playing two games starting today at 11:35 (Pacific), and the Dodgers have to sweep to win the American-North division title. If Colorado Springs takes just one game they are playoff bound in their final season. The second game of the doubleheader will only be played if necessary. If the Sky Sox get swept at home it will be the saddest end to a franchise you can possibly imagine.
Oklahoma City 6/11, COLORADO SPRINGS 4/8 – the Dodgers won the first game on Will Smith‘s two-run homer in the top of the eighth (an extra) inning, and then Henry Ramos went 5-for-6 with a homer and five RBI in game two. Story from MiLB.com.
Round Rock 7, IOWA 5 – former Rainiers pitcher Adrian Sampson earned the win, finishing his season at 8-4, 3.77.
NEW ORLEANS 6, Omaha 4 – the Baby Cakes took the lead when the go-ahead runner was balked in from third base in the eighth inning. #BalkCakes Story from New Orleans.
Memphis 2, NASHVILLE 1 – Jake Woodford geared up for the playoffs by allowing just one run over six innings for the Redbirds.
SALT LAKE 7, Fresno 0 – we’ve got a race for the home run title, as Jabari Blash ripped his 28th to tie Fresno’s A.J. Reed for the PCL lead with one game left. We’re on dinger watch today!
RENO 6, Albuquerque 2 – still in Reno, Ildemaro Vargas went 3-for-4 with a double, a homer, and two RBI for the Aces.
LAS VEGAS 5, Sacramento 3 – scorching hot ex-Rainier Patrick Kivlehan launched his 20th homer in the eighth inning to lead Vegas to the win. It was win No. 70 for Las Vegas, so Tony DeFrancesco avoided a losing season despite his team’s dreadful first two months of the season. Story from Las Vegas.